Marine aquarium technology supplier Midland Reefs has shown off a range of new gadgets at this year's GLEE trade show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Tim Hayes of Midland Reefs told Practical Fishkeeping: We've got some exciting new products this year. For me, this is the most exciting. This is Cell Pore, it's a medium from a company called ReefresH20. Why is this product so exciting? It's got the largest surface area per volume of any substrate on the market.
All my current research is looking at the future of the marine aquarium . And if we find we are in a position when we can no longer have live rock, this is the substrate that will replace it.
Foamed aragoniteHayes said that the porous ceramic media, which is called foamed aragonite, is made from a similar material to corals and makes an ideal substrate for bacterial colonisation.
The media comes in large 10cm/4 deep blocks, that can be placed in the base of trickle filters or sumps to aid denitrification, and help reduce nitrate. They also come in bioball form for use in trickle filters, and in thinner 3cm deep plates.
The ReefresH20 Biorocker.
In the States, reef aquarists are starting to plate the bottom of their aquarium, Hayes told Practical Fishkeeping. Often people worry about the impact of live rock against the glass, so this is a nice safe way of doing it, and also getting a certain amount of denitrification.
Other aquarists entirely plate the bottom of the aquarium and just put a thin layer of sand over, and then they can just easily siphon out any detritus in the sand and replace with new, preventing any build-up in the aquarium.
Green Skies LED lightingHayes said that Midland Reefs were the pioneers of LED aquarium lighting in the UK. He said that the company had been putting most of its efforts into the lighting of public aquaria.
In a public aquarium situation, we can take a spotlight and light a tank as deep as the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to a depth of 10.5m and throw shadows on the substrate. This is the area where LED lighting is in advance of HQI (metal halide) lighting. We can replace a 1000W HQI with an 80W LED.
The lights in action on a 10.5m deep tank at the National Marine Aquarium, with shadows visible on the substrate.
Hayes told Practical Fishkeeping that in terms of reef aquarium lighting its technology was still in the early stages. At the moment our lighting for reef aquaria is equivalent on the smaller unit to roughly a twin 150W, and the larger unit, the four foot unit, roughly a twin 250W.
Hayes said that there were a number of perceptions that needed to be overcome with LED lighting before it would become generally accepted.
He said one of the key differences was that tanks lit by LEDs did not look as bright as those lit by other methods, because of the lack of indiscriminate glare.
LED lighting from Green Skies.
The lighting from an LED goes down to the corals, where you want the light, said Hayes.
So physiologically it's fine for corals, but it may look a little different to the lighting you're used to.
"But when you consider that the energy consumption can be a quarter of that of an HQI light, this is really the lighting technology of the future.
Hydor's new skimmer impeller.
Hydor skimmersHayes also explained that he had been working as a marine consultant to Italian aquarium product manufacturer Hydor, and he showed off its new skimmer. The Hydor range of performance skimmers include a new Rotormix impeller.
Said Hayes: Unlike competitors' impellers, we don't just have single pins or fingers to break up the air into smaller bubbles.
There is actually still an element of impeller blade, so one of the reasons this skimmer works so efficiently is we're pushing the water into the body at a higher rate, at the same time as breaking up the air into smaller bubbles.